In the UK, we have four television channels that regularly screen live football matches or highlights – and each of them has a mixture of good and bad pundits.
One question remains though. Who are they? Let’s take a look.
5. Mick McCarthy, ex-BBC
The entertaining Yorkshireman has a no-nonsense attitude on screen and on the sidelines. Currently manager of Ipswich Town, McCarthy started off the season with a stint on Match of the Day 2, to acclaim from the footballing world.
His accessible knowledge of the game was fascinatingly displayed with some incisive and to-the-point analysis. The fact that he gets player’s names correct, and does not bore people to sleep, also helps.
4. Pat Nevin, 5Live & ITV4
The likeable Scot is mostly heard on our radio stations, but occasionally he is afforded a place on our TV screens – somewhere he should be more regularly.
Nevin’s accurate analysis, particularly in the Europa League, and his neutral take on games, provide viewers with a balanced and informative reading of the beautiful game.
3. Lee Dixon, ITV
A surprise selection perhaps, Dixon is noted for his fair and accurate punditry. Being a Manchester City fan and a former Arsenal right-back, Dixon manages to assess fixtures in an unbiased manner.
With his excellent analysis of defensive situations, and an affable on-screen personality, Dixon gets a place in my top three pundits.
2. Kevin Keegan, ESPN
Also a controversial choice on face value, Keegan has established himself as ESPN’s lead pundit.
Despite his challenging opinions, Keegan has a habit of spotting things other pundits miss.
This makes him a more accurate pundit and this, together with his knowledge of the game and engaging personality, makes him a good watch.
1. Gary Neville, Sky Sports
Said to have taken punditry to a new level, Neville is enjoying an unprecedented level of respect amongst the footballing community for his detailed and insightful analysis.
In his element on Sky’s Monday Night Football, Neville has a touchscreen TV at his disposal, and he uses it to maximum effect by offering viewers a state-of-the-art insight into the mechanics of a football match.
Having also taken his punditry into the commentary position alongside Martin Tyler, Neville is arguably the UK’s stand-out football expert.
5. Mark Lawrenson, BBC
It’s hard to like Lawro. If his shirts are horrendous, his punditry is even worse.
Lawrenson’s chummy relationship with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer on MOTD is another bug-bear, and he offers little originality or decisiveness – on his predictions column on the BBC Sport website he invariably predicts 1-1 whenever the top Premier League teams clash.
The ex-Liverpool defender also turns his hand to commentary for major tournaments – frustratingly so. His sense of humour (call me hypocritical) is annoying, and he never seems to fail in making matches less appealing. Worth his place in the worst five.
4. Steve Claridge, BBC
Perhaps the most boring of all pundits on TV, Claridge has the ability to do little else but annoy. His knowledge of league football on the Football League Show is hardly inspiring, and can sometimes detract from the generally exciting matches on show.
Also a radio pundit on 5Live, Claridge is just as underwhelming, often stating the obvious and hiding behind the lead commentator.
3. Gareth Southgate, ITV
Having been out of the managerial hotseat for almost three-and-a-half years, Southgate has been filling a punditry position on ITV while he continues to look for a new job.
That job can’t come quick enough, with Southgate being one of the drabbest pundits around.
His ability to emulate Claridge and state the obvious is accentuated by his lack of insight.
Southgate is also culpable of forgetting player’s names and is sometimes picked on by his more assertive colleagues – notably Roy Keane.
2. Robbie Savage, BBC & 5Live
Aside from his irritating on-screen demeanour, Savage’s opinionated punditry is often inaccurate.
His biggest flaw though, is picking up on something and referring to it in unwavering fashion throughout the match – particularly on 5Live.
This is evidenced by his recent barrage of criticism towards Rafael da Silva in the Champions League last week, accusing the Brazilian of not trying hard enough to contain Cristiano Ronaldo – the fact is, who can?
It was widely held in the national papers on Thursday that Rafael actually had a decent game, unbeknownst to Savage.
This fascination with such observations leaves his punditry with a serious case of ‘tunnel vision’ – one which we could all do without.
1. Martin Keown, BBC & ESPN
Easily the worst pundit on our screens.
The former Arsenal defender had a formidable reputation on the pitch, and is now building one in the studio for all the wrong reasons.
Guilty of making embarrassing gaffes, mispronouncing names and using laughable cliches, Keown’s dour punditry is now being exposed.
Always frowning and fond of making a blind-alley point to round off a discussion, Keown should count himself lucky that both ESPN and the BBC see him as indispensable.